More than Sweet: 5 Honey Skin Care Benefits for a Glowing Complexion
I have a confession to make: I love honey.
From honey-glazed ham to delectable soft-baked cookies, honey never fails to make my day just a little bit sweeter. It’s the sugar substitute in my morning coffee and an all-natural sweetener for my afternoon tea. And dribbled atop creamy Greek yogurts, its smooth mouthwatering texture packs a ton of flavor.
So it’s no secret why I’d want to incorporate honey into my weekly skin care routine… right?
Because honey isn’t just a healthier sugar alternative.
There’s a reason this amber-colored liquid keeps popping up in more and more beauty products, from face masks to exfoliating scrubs. And here, we’ll take an in-depth look into some awesome honey skin care benefits.
Winnie the Pooh Might’ve Been On To Something
Gathered by an army of bees, sweet nectar is turned into thick golden honey. But did you know this same honey comes packed with a ton of honey skin care benefits?
Actually, the use of honey dates back to early human civilization. Honey was so prized that ancient Egyptians would offer it up to the gods …as gifts! Even Cleopatra mixed milk and honey into therapeutic baths (source).
As it turns out, raw honey has natural healing properties (source). But though it can soothe painful scrapes and ward off infection, that’s not all raw honey is known for.
Not Just a Sweetener: 5 Honey Skin Care Benefits
I love dabbling with natural skin remedies. Whether I’m mixing up a moisturizer with rosehip, jojoba, or evening primrose oil or pampering my skin with a night cream made from shea butter, there’s nothing more satisfying than nourishing skin using my own recipes.
So, call it curiosity, but when I first learned I could use honey in DIY face masks, my interest was piqued. What did this amazing ingredient, with its delightfully sweet taste, have to offer my skin?
A lot of honey skin care benefits, it turns out!
As I started to experiment, I began to appreciate honey more and more. But little did I know just how much I’d enjoy adding raw honey to my weekly skin care routine. And I think you will too! Here’s why.
Benefit #1: Raw Honey Protects Stressed Out Skin
You know free radicals: damaging molecules that irritate your cells, age your skin, and wear down your complexion.
Sure, we can’t escape free radicals. But we can do the next best thing – prevent free radical damage by calling on some heavy-duty antioxidant protection. You already learned one way to prevent damage (with topical vitamin C). But raw honey offers some additional protection all on its own!
Honey naturally contains skin-nourishing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes that work together to repair and protect skin from environmental stress. The high antioxidant content of raw honey even neutralizes free radicals deep within the skin (source).
This means your skin gets another line of defense against premature aging, fine lines, and wrinkles. And honey skin care benefits that keep my complexion looking healthy and youthful is okay in my book!
Benefit #2: Raw Honey Quenches Parched Skin
When the weather’s cool and the air dry, parched skin makes its displeasure known – flaking away and replacing smooth skin with itchy redness. Even oily complexions can use a little moisture to keep sebum production in check.
Maybe you’ve seen this in action: the slightest hint of dryness sparks an overproduction of sebum, clogging pores and encouraging more acne than you know what to do with.
Honey doesn’t just satisfy your dry-skin woes. It helps balance oily skin too!
A natural humectant, honey has excellent moisture-retaining properties (source). Raw honey hydrates your skin with moisture from the surrounding air, softening the top layer and moisturizing deep within. And by retaining moisture, acne-prone skin types produce less oil.
So whether you’re fighting back sunburn or harsh cold winds, honey skin care benefits help lock in moisture – even after the honey is rinsed off! And by boosting water content to areas that need it most, your skin stays happy and hydrated throughout the day.
Benefit #3: Raw Honey Heals Angry Blemishes
Did you know honey can reduce esteem-crushing pimples? You know, the ones that always pop up at the worst possible moments.
Yep, honey skin care benefits go beyond just hydrating the skin (and keeping oily skin balanced).
But honey doesn’t stop there!
Raw honey comes packed with a healthy combination of antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that help heal blemishes and ward off infection (source). Plus, raw honey is very gentle on sensitive skin, lightly cleansing while soothing irritated pores.
Honey skin care benefits do have their limits though. A sudden bout of blemishes can mean something deeper’s going on. Though raw honey won’t prevent hormonal acne, it can still improve your complexion. Even so, see your local dermatologist about severe acne concerns.
Benefit #4: Raw Honey Lightens Imperfections
After you’ve won the battle against bacteria, acne scars often stick around – even after your skin is smooth to the touch and clog free!
But what if you’ve been out in the sun (and forgotten your sunblock)? Well, not only can acne marks darken, but age spots and sunburn can quickly make the top of your list of skin concerns to treat.
Just take it from me: confidence can take a serious hit.
Olive-skinned gals are certainly no strangers to hyperpigmentation. I’ve found a 15-minute honey mask can do wonders for irritated skin, whether you’re suffering from sunburn or inflamed acne.
Raw honey helps calm distressed skin naturally, even reducing the severity of breakouts.
How? By combining anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties for faster healing, reduced scarring, and speedy tissue regeneration (1, 2). And because honey contains a nice helping of gluconic acid (source), it can really brighten the complexion – lightening those stubborn dark marks and acne scars we talked about earlier (source).
Benefit #5: Raw Honey Prevents Problematic Skin
Your skin has its own way of protecting itself from environmental stress – the acid mantle.
The acid mantle acts as a barrier, blocking out toxins while keeping in moisture for healthy skin that’s irritation free (source). But its effectiveness really depends on where your epidermis (the very top layer of skin) sits on the pH scale (how acidic or alkaline your skin is). An uncomfortable pH can make it tricky for the acid mantle to do its job.
What does this mean?
pH ranges from 0 (highly acidic) to 14 (very alkaline). The lower the pH, the more irritated and acne-prone your skin can be (source). The higher the pH, the drier and more wrinkle-prone your skin. That’s where honey skin care benefits come in.
Raw honey helps balance your skin’s pH.
Skin is happiest when it’s slightly acidic – about 5.5 on the pH scale (source). With a pH ranging from 3 to 6, raw honey helps promote a healthy acidic environment – giving bacteria a tougher time for less sensitive and problematic skin (1, 2).
How to Reap the Most Benefits (Hint: It’s all about the Honey)
So, honey doesn’t just taste great in your morning tea. And it’s much more than a skin softener.
But will any honey do?
Not exactly. Some types of honey offer more honey skin care benefits than others. And it all depends on how the honey is processed and where bees collect the pollen from.
Processed or Raw?
Take a trip to your local grocery store and you’ll find jars of clear pasteurized honey. These are heavily processed – heated to a degree that destroys a lot of the skin-healing nutrients your body craves (source).
So while processed honey might taste amazing (it is mostly sugar after all), it simply isn’t as effective on your skin as raw honey that hasn’t been heat treated.
Instead, search for raw unpasteurized honey. It’s minimally processed, keeping most antimicrobial and antioxidant honey skin care benefits (source).
What about the Flower?
Sage honey. Orange blossom honey. Wildflower honey.
Honey is labeled based on the flower or region bees created it from. Each type varies in color, taste, and consistency. And depending on the flower, honey can affect your skin on different levels.
Derived from the antioxidant-rich flowers of the Manuka plant, Manuka honey is well known for its awesome antibacterial properties. In fact, it’s boasted to be the most potent with the most enzymatic activity of any other type of honey (source).
“Manuka honey has been reported to inhibit more than 80 species of bacteria.” – Andrew Weil
So for blemish-prone skin, Manuka honey is especially healing because of its very high concentration of skin-loving methylglyoxal compounds (source).
But not all Manuka honey has the same honey skin care benefits! Manuka honey is ranked by its Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) or how potent the honey is based on its concentration of methylglyoxal, where superior grades range from 10 to 15 and even higher.
Such honey skin care benefits come with a steep price. And the higher the UMF, the more expensive the honey. Though if you want to reap the most benefits (and ensure you don’t miss out on any helpful nutrients), choose Manuka honey with a UMF of 10 or more.
Don’t have the money to splurge? Look for dark, raw unpasteurized honey.
Let’s Get Sticky: Fun and Easy Ways to Apply Honey
Alright, we’ve listed a bunch of honey skin care benefits. But how can you add raw honey to your skin care routine?
Easy! Try these suggestions:
- Honey Face Mask: You can make your very own face mask at home! All you need is a teaspoon of raw honey. Simply cleanse your face (as you normally would) and spread a thin layer of honey onto your skin. Leave it for 15 to 30 minutes, then rinse the honey off with warm water. Repeat one to two times per week (or as often as you’d like). Feeling a bit creative? Enhance your honey face mask with ½ teaspoon of aloe vera gel or jojoba oil and a couple drops of essential oil. I love adding a drop of both tea tree and lavender essential oils for a refreshing acne treatment.
- Honey Cleanse: Though it won’t remove your makeup (well, anyway), raw honey can act as a moisturizing face wash. Plus, daily cleansing will help keep your complexion clear of bad pore-clogging bacteria. Massage a teaspoon of raw honey into your skin with soft circular motions, avoiding the eye area. After a minute or two of working in the honey, rinse off with warm water. Steaming your face with a damp wash cloth for 30 seconds (before rinsing off) can help the active ingredients in honey soak in as well. You can even spice things up with a teaspoon of coconut or jojoba oil.
- Honey Spot Treatment: Raw honey can help heal acne. And combined with tea tree essential oil or lavender essential oil, it can help soothe inflamed pimples and lighten existing acne scars. With a cotton swab, just dab a drop of essential oil and a bit of raw honey onto active blemishes. Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.
You can even add honey to your bath water. Or use it in a homemade baking soda scrub. There’s really no end to the creative ways you can incorporate honey into olive skin care.
And because raw honey is so gentle on olive skin, it can be used as frequently as you’d like! But if your honey is difficult to spread, try combining it with carrier oil (like jojoba or argan oil). Or, wet your face first with warm water before slathering on the honey.
How Do You Use Honey?
Raw honey sure is a good skin softener and moisturizer. And with its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, topical honey is a great choice for sensitive or acne-prone skin.
I love using honey as a face mask twice per week. In just three weeks of regular use, my complexion has felt noticeably soft and smooth. Raw honey even gives my skin a healthy glow!
How about you? Have you given raw honey a try? Which essential oils and creams do you use with honey? What honey skin care benefits have you noticed?
Share your honey-pampering tips in the comment section below!